Online audio reached an all-time high in 2021.
Sixty-two percent of the U.S. 12+ population, or around 176 million people, are now weekly online audio listeners, according to the Infinite Dial 2021 study released Thursday by Edison Research and Triton Digital.
While younger demos are more likely to be regular online audio listeners, the percentages are significant across all age groups. Both 12–34-year-olds and 35-54 year-olds track above average when it comes to monthly online audio listening with 12-34’s holding steady at 86% penetration and 35-54’s down from 76% in 2020 to 72% in 2021. Even among the 55+ demo, online audio consumption is on the rise, increasing from 42% last year to 46% in 2021.
"In the near quarter of a century that the Infinite Dial has been the survey of record for digital audio, the space has never been more vibrant, or more diverse, than it is today,” said Tom Webster, Senior VP at Edison Research.
The survey defines online audio as the online streams of AM/FM stations and other audio available only on the internet.
After taking a dip in 2020, the average weekly time spent listening to online audio rebounded to 16 hours, 14 minutes in 2021. That an impressive 7% increase, or a gain of one hour over 2020 levels but below 2019’s high watermark of 16 hours, 43 minutes. Census level data from Triton Digital Webcast Metrics affirms this finding, showing 6% year-over-year TSL growth, Triton President of Market Development John Rosso said Thursday during an online presentation of the study.
When it comes to specific online brands, Pandora continues to lead as the service that most people know about with 83% awareness among the 12+ population. But as competition continues to heat up, the study shows six different online audio brands with awareness of 50% or greater, including Spotify (76%), iHeartRadio (72%), Apple Music (72%), Amazon Music (70%) and YouTube Music (formerly Google Play) (68%).
Looking at usage, Spotify is out front among online audio brands listened to in the past week at 25%, followed by Pandora and YouTube Music which tied for second place with 14% apiece. And while 31% of respondents said Spotify is the online audio brand they use the most, that leaves a lot of room for other players, including Pandora, YouTube Music, Apple Music, Amazon Music and iHeartRadio which all show significant “used most often” shares. Narrowing the sample to just those who own an Amazon Alexa device shows Amazon Music’s share of online audio brands used most often more than doubles to 21%.
For the first time since being fielded in 1998, the Infinite Dial survey asked how often you listen to audio with other people. More than half of the total population said they listen with other people at least sometimes. But group listening was more common among younger people with 32% of 12–34-year-olds saying they do so frequently and 37% sometimes.
Download a copy of the Infinite Dial 2021 HERE.